Friday, September 28, 2018

Writing: Editing Our Work

I'm waiting to get the final edits back for my novella, Emergency Case, so editing is on my mind right now. And I thought it might be a good idea to once more go through the types of editing--at least, this is the way I do it. (There are other classifications and names for the edits, but the end result is the same).

First comes the MACRO EDIT. What I'm looking for here is how the story arc flows, whether there are glaring holes that need to be filled or characters whose actions or personalities should be changed. This is an important step, and the results have made me--on more than one occasion--go back and change things in the book. Sometimes this has happened after I've written ten thousand words or more, and at least once it has meant rewriting parts of the whole book. One of the things I recommend is not falling in love with your own words, because you may have to delete them later.

After that comes the LINE EDIT. This isn't what it might sound like. The purpose of a line edit is to evaluate (and correct) the way the author has used words to communicate ideas. It often involves rewriting a section for accuracy or clarity. But it's not (or at least, usually isn't) a situation looking for errors in spelling, punctuation, or word usage. That comes next.

The final step is the COPY EDIT. That changes numerals written in number form to those spelled out (I never can keep the rules straight). It puts in or removes commas, changes ellipses to dashes and vice-versa, and makes sure that if a name is Holiday in the first of the book it doesn't appear as Hathaway toward the end. (The last one has always been my downfall).

I said final step, but there's actually one more--the PROOFREADING. This is done just before printing, and is for picking up errors missed previously. And, despite all efforts, there is probably something that has been overlooked. It happens everywhere. I was just reading the work of an excellent author, a novel published by a well-respected publisher, and found the same word misspelled twice on the same page.

Ah, writing. How wonderful to put one's words out there for the world to see and criticize. That's why an author shouldn't do all this on his/her own.

What do you think? Is all the editing necessary? Should an indie-published author pay someone to edit (I do) or do it themselves? Let me know.

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Patricia Bradley said...

Thanks for listing all the different edits. I always get them confused. And typos...there are at least six people reading my book and there are always typos that slip through! Speaking of edits, I've never had a suggestion from an editor that I didn't eventually embrace. lol Now I must go take a nap!

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, I'm with you. And it's true that there's always one error that slips through--and several readers to let you know about it. Thanks for the comment--enjoy the nap.

Paula Shreckhise said...

I think a fresh pair of eyes is always wise! I tend to pick up on errors in spelling and useage. You want your final product to shine! And not distract from the story. Thanks Richard.

Richard Mabry said...

Paula, Oh, I agree. But I can tell you from experience that, no matter how many pair of eyes look at it, an error sneaks through.

Priscilla Bettis said...

I think self editing is a bad idea. An author knows what he or she MEANT to say, but a new pair of eyes would see what it REALLY says.

Richard Mabry said...

Priscilla, You've hit on one of the main reasons a second pair of eyes is important--did you convey what was in your mind? I've been told on more than one occasion that my first (or second or third) drafts don't include all the information.